Staying properly hydrated-in other words, making sure your body has the water it needs to function in a healthy way-is important for everyone. We all need a steady stream of fluids to survive and thrive, because every cell in our bodies requires water to work properly.
However, hydration is even more crucial for people who are coping with neuroendocrine tumors (NET). That’s because neuroendocrine cancers and the therapies used to treat them can put a serious strain on the entire body, including the gastrointestinal (GI) system.
Here’s why. NETs develop in the hormone-producing cells in the body’s neuroendocrine system. Sometimes referred to as carcinoids, NETs may first appear in various parts of the body, such as the lungs or certain glands. They may also occur in the GI tract-for example, in the stomach, pancreas, intestines, rectum, or colon.
NETs-especially those in the GI system-can impact your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and water from the foods and beverages you consume. As a result, NET patients have an elevated risk of dehydration.
If you are receiving treatment for NETs, or if you’re a neuroendocrine cancer survivor, it’s important for you to know about hydration. Here are six surprising facts about this very important topic.
1. Staying well-hydrated is one of the best things you can do for your health. Taking in adequate amounts of fluid benefits you in many ways. Hydration helps protect your organs, maintain your blood pressure, regulate your heart rate, and sustain a healthy body temperature. It also helps keep your joints lubricated and assists your body in eliminating waste.
2. Dehydration can lead to a range of health conditions. Complications of dehydration can include fatigue, low blood volume, serious drops in blood pressure, kidney problems, and even heatstroke or seizures.
3. It’s not just about water. The word “hydration” means “to absorb water.” But your body needs more than just water to run smoothly. Fluids in your body contain electrolytes, which are substances that help regulate the flow of water in and out of our cells. Electrolytes help our tissues, nerves, muscles, and organs to do their jobs. When you don’t have enough fluid in your body-for example, when you have diarrhea-you may also be losing the critical electrolytes your body needs.
4. Diarrhea is one of the most common causes of dehydration. The loose, liquid stools of diarrhea can cause you to lose more fluids than you can take in. Unfortunately, diarrhea is a common symptom in NET patients, occurring up to 20 times a day. Diarrhea can be caused by NETs themselves, as well as by damage to the GI system and the therapies used to treat neuroendocrine cancers. For example, chemotherapy damages good cells as well as cancer cells, and it can worsen dehydration.
5. Amino acids are better than glucose at delivering hydration. People who need help hydrating may turn to glucose-based hydrating drinks and sports beverages to increase their fluid levels. However, glucose can make diarrhea and dehydration worse. Instead of choosing sugary drinks, NET patients can benefit from hydrating with enterade, which uses amino acids rather than glucose to deliver the fluids and electrolytes your body needs to stay hydrated. enterade helps reduce dehydration, decrease diarrhea, and heal the lining of the GI tract to allow better absorption of water and nutrients.
6. Dehydration causes symptoms beyond just thirst. Although you can certainly become dry-mouthed and thirsty if you are dehydrated, there are other signs to look for as well. Some of the signs of dehydration include not urinating for long periods of time, having urine that is darker than usual, headache, confusion or dizziness, lightheadedness, eyes that appear sunken, and unusual sleepiness or fatigue. If you are experiencing these symptoms, be sure to tell your doctor.